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Thread: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

  1. #1

    Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

    I just started reading that today. Shinryu Suzuki has a very personable style to his writings, informal, but he gets right to the point. I'm enjoying this work immensely. Oh, sorry. Go ahead and delete this thread, if that's appropriate.. I just saw that the other threads have Grass Hut in front of the titles..
    Last edited by Andrew; 11-14-2015 at 04:54 AM.

  2. #2
    Hi Andrew,

    I liked ZMBM very much too.

    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_

  3. #3
    Great book!

    Gassho
    Sergey
    sitting now

  4. #4
    Mp
    Guest
    Yes Andrew, that is a great book. =) Also, have you seen our suggested readings thread? If has a lot of wonderful jewels there too.

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...REELEAF-SANGHA

    Gassho
    Shingen

    #sattoday

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew View Post
    I just started reading that today. Shinryu Suzuki has a very personable style to his writings, informal, but he gets right to the point. I'm enjoying this work immensely. Oh, sorry. Go ahead and delete this thread, if that's appropriate.. I just saw that the other threads have Grass Hut in front of the titles..
    Hi Andrew,

    Yes, one of the classics of the Soto Zen world. You will find it around to top of the list of recommended books for folks on our Treeleaf list ...

    SUGGESTED BOOK & MEDIA LIST for TREELEAF SANGHA
    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...REELEAF-SANGHA

    Just yesterday, I was reading a scholar's thesis looking at the book. I think some of what she said was interesting and helpful, so I will paste it below. I am also going to repost the following, although maybe it is just my opinion. I write as a translator of Japanese who struggles in the opposite direction ...

    I am going to say something that almost sacrilegious in the Soto Zen World, but which is true.

    Part of the problem with Zen Mind (and with many books by older Japanese teachers such as some of the writings of Uchiyama Roshi ... our own Nishijima Roshi is certainly no exception) is that their English was often a struggle for them (not their fault ... you should hear me when I offer a talk in Japanese on some abstract point ... but Suzuki like Nishijima often struggled with English), and that Japanese sentence structure is generally very indirect and hazy in making statements compared to English. In addition, Japanese essay structure is typically rather "mushy" (i.e., to Western ears, the essays and talks tend to meander from topic to topic, while most public speakers in the west keep the train on the tracks), and ... gee... this is Zen, and so many of these ideas are spaghetti nailed to the wall even for the teacher! For that reason, Zen Mind Beginners Mind is not really a series of essays. Suzuki Roshi, like many Japanese writers of his time, rather wanders from insight to insight, strung together, meandering here and there without clear direction, and not particularly ending up with a solid "conclusion" in a Western essay style. Thus, take each little paragraph, even sentence, as standing on its own ... not necessarily leading in a set direction.

    On top of that, Suzuki's students RECREATED the talks in the books from handwritten notes taken during the talks and really poor quality tape recordings. The transcribers mostly did not speak Japanese, so were hindered in that too

    However, nonetheless, the book is a treasure house of beautiful quotes and insights. Lots to ring one's bell! Real gold in there.

    Of course, not EVERYTHING in the book has to ring one's bell! Some things in the book that sound very profound and mysterious ... don't really mean anything, I feel. Some other things are just mistranslations of English too.

    Reminds me of when (true story) I first came to Japan and met my first Japanese "Zen Master" (my first teacher, Azuma Roshi of Sojiji). I promptly proceeded to ask him the big questions, one of which was "What is Time? What is the "NOW"?"

    His answer: "Now 5:30"

    Wow, I thought. HOW PROFOUND! He must mean "time is just what it is!" and it is "Now! Just this moment, 5:30!!"

    Instead, I later found out that his English was not so good, and he just thought I was asking what time it was.

    Lots of stuff like that in Beginners Mind I think. However, lots of gold too.
    What the scholar wrote ...

    In Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, Shunryu Suzuki combines instrumental and
    noninstrumental rhetoric in an interesting way. He does sometimes present Zen practice
    as noninstrumental, but more often he presents Zen practice as instrumental but stresses
    that one should practice with a noninstrumental attitude. That is, one should practice
    without trying to attain some end, although practice is in fact a means to an end.

    ...

    Suzuki implies that enlightenment can be attained—Zen practice is
    instrumental—but we need to practice with a noninstrumental attitude: “If our practice is
    only a means to attain enlightenment, there is actually no way to attain it! We lost the
    meaning of the way to the goal.” To attain enlightenment, according to Suzuki, one
    cannot engage in practice as if it is merely a means to attain enlightenment. Meaning
    needs to be found in the practice in the present, not just in a goal in the future.

    Suzuki then suggests that to find meaning in the practice—practicing
    noninstrumentally—is enlightenment: “When we believe in our way firmly, we have
    already attained enlightenment. When you believe in your way, enlightenment is there.
    But when you cannot believe in the meaning of the practice which you are doing in this
    moment, you cannot do anything. You are just wandering around the goal with your
    monkey mind.” Suzuki is careful to say that he is not dismissing the idea of a goal; it’s
    just not what should be stressed: “We do not slight the idea of attaining enlightenment,
    but the most important thing is this moment, not some day in the future. We have to make
    our effort in this moment. This is the most important thing for our practice.

    ...

    The talk “Nothing Special” is another good example of Suzuki’s complicated
    mixture of instrumental and noninstrumental ways of presenting Zen practice, including
    his unique understanding of practice as instrumental if one practices with a
    noninstrumental attitude.

    Suzuki begins this talk with some Dogen-like noninstrumental rhetoric, presenting
    practice simply as the expression of our true nature and not as a means to any end:

    I do not feel like speaking after zazen. I feel the practice of zazen is
    enough. But if I must say something I think I would like to talk about how
    wonderful it is to practice zazen. Our purpose is just to keep this practice
    forever. This practice started from beginningless time, and it will continue
    into an endless future. Strictly speaking, for a human being there is no
    other practice than this practice There is no other way of life than this way
    of life. Zen practice is the direct expression of our true nature.”

    Suzuki then shifts to an instrumental form of rhetoric, speaking of practice as a
    means to realize one’s true nature: “Of course, whatever we do is the expression of our
    true nature, but without this practice it is difficult to realize.”

    He then moves into his distinctive rhetoric of practice as instrumental if practiced
    noninstrumentally. He says that it is in the nature of being alive that we are active and
    always doing something. What is important is our attitude as we do things:

    As long as you think, “I am doing this,” or “I have to do this,” or “I must
    attain something special,” you are actually not doing anything. When you
    give up, when you no longer want something, or when you do not try to do
    anything special, then you do something. When there is no gaining idea in
    what you do, then you do something.
    This is pretty much just the same "attaining nothing to attain thus attaining" that we keep here at Treeleaf.

    Gassho, Jundo

    SatToday, Gained Nothing and Everything
    Last edited by Jundo; 11-14-2015 at 03:51 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  6. #6
    Hello,

    "attaining nothing to attain thus attaining" - Jundo

    To paraphrase Mark Twain:

    “Explaining zen is a lot like dissecting a frog, you learn a lot in the process, but in the end you kill it.”


    Gassho
    Myosha sat today



    Last edited by Myosha; 11-14-2015 at 04:13 PM.
    "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

  7. #7
    Thank you so much for the reading lists, Shingen and Jundo! I'll start working my way down the list after I've done with Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind!
    In gassho and metta,
    Andrew
    I sat today.

  8. #8
    I think Begginers mind is like poet,express Zen mind.But when we learn about Zen,we need patience.So Fulanzazengi is best practice and search your trust teacher is also important .


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  9. #9
    That scholar perfectly sums up my frustrations with ZMBM, I often feel like I'm the only one who doesn't like that book for those reasons.

    Sat Today

  10. #10
    Joyo
    Guest
    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...F9213C6626267F

    It's on youtube as well, for anyone who would like to listen instead of read it.

    Gassho,
    Joyo
    sat today

  11. #11
    Member Getchi's Avatar
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    May 2015
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    Between Sea and Sky, Australia.
    Quote Originally Posted by Konan View Post
    I think Begginers mind is like poet,express Zen mind.But when we learn about Zen,we need patience.So Fulanzazengi is best practice and search your trust teacher is also important .


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Thankyou Konan, Fukanzazengi was my firt taste of "Zen" and I cannot over emphasise its amazingly obvious beauty.

    ZMBM I think is a simple text that reveals ever increasing complexity with each re-read.

    SatToday
    Geoff.
    Nothing to do? Why not Sit?

  12. #12
    Joyo
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Josh View Post
    That scholar perfectly sums up my frustrations with ZMBM, I often feel like I'm the only one who doesn't like that book for those reasons.

    Sat Today
    No, you are not the only one. I have some of the same thoughts about the book.

    Gassho,
    Joyo
    sat today

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